As a Designer, I sometimes need to evaluate different technologies and platforms from a Designer’s perspective. Why is it important to get a Designer’s view? As Designers we can quickly be boxed in with inflexible UI layers, unusable sets of standard patterns, and the inability to create a great experience. By reviewing and testing, we can determine the pros and cons of a given technology solution. In honor of Eclipsecon 2008 😉 I’ve put together a presentation on a popular application platform – the Eclipse RCP.
Eclipse has it’s roots as a development IDE, and while that’s very efficient for developers, for non-developers it’s not very user-friendly. For this particular technology I broke up the potential problems into four groups: Visual Style, Structure, Usability, and Focus. These were four areas where Eclipse had problems, when looking across a large number of Eclipse based applications.
The Designers View of Eclipse:
To be fair, they are trying to fix these issues, and some very smart developer/designers are creating good applications using Eclipse. But, projects without proper UI layer specialists (Designers and Developers) will default to the problems listed out above. From a Designer’s view, it’s not easy to get a great application out of Eclipse.
One great presentation out of Eclipsecon 2008 is from Morten Moeller, titled: “Designing Business and Technical User Interfaces in Eclipse RCP Applications” which basically states current Eclipse User Interfaces could use some work, and how to made them better – with technical examples of how the presentation layer works.
This is not to say that Eclipse, as a platform is not capable of great things, but just that current popular Eclipse patterns that seem to be prevalent across most Eclipse based applications are not great from a Design/usability perspective
Remember, while the Designer’s view is very important (after all I’m a Designer 😉 there are other business needs that weigh the overall solution. Such as: development time, current skill set, scalability, etc…
With experience becoming an important factor in differentiating products, having a flexible UI layer is becoming a major factor when choosing a technology to base your product on, so if you’re part of a team evaluating different technologies, make sure your team takes into account the Designer’s view.